2015 Awards – Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot

The Darkhorse Espresso sign, white writing on a red oval.The last of today’s 2015 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists is the “Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot”. In 2014 this went to Darkhorse Espresso and it celebrates those Coffee Spots which are firmly rooted in, and which serve, their local communities. Unsurprisingly, the shortlist contains some of my favourite Coffee Spots of the year.

This Award has quite a wide geographical spread, with Coffee Spots from as far afield as SeattlePhiladelphia, Dorset, Lymington, Swindon, Brighton, SheffieldNewcastle, Esher and Notting Hill.

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Down in Kemp Town in Brighton is the original Ground, on a lovely sunlit corner.
  • A slice of Australian-inspired cafe culture in South Philadelphia: Ants Pants Cafe.
  • Tucked away in Brighton's Laines, it's Jolliffes.
  • Sheffield's Upshot Espresso, friendly neighbourhood cafe with top-notch speciality coffee.
  • Poole's Little Red Roaster, roasting all its own coffee with the Little Red Roaster still on site!
  • Milstead & Co under a bridge in Seattle, another neighbourhood joint with top-notch coffee.
  • Amid Giants & Idols, another cafe/roaster in an unlikely location: up a hill in Lyme Regis.
  • Jesmond's Cafe 1901, the very epitome of a neighbourhood coffee shop.
  • Swindon's Darkroom Espresso, where a real community spirit saw a battle to save it.
  • Notting Hill's Farm Girl Cafe, tucked away in a litte courtyard off Portobello Road.
  • Lemana Coffee & Kitchen, right at the heart of Lymington, now with Has Bean coffee!
  • Esher's Giro, serving the local community as well as the cycling community.
Down in Kemp Town in Brighton is the original Ground, on a lovely sunlit corner.1 A slice of Australian-inspired cafe culture in South Philadelphia: Ants Pants Cafe.2 Tucked away in Brighton's Laines, it's Jolliffes.3 Sheffield's Upshot Espresso, friendly neighbourhood cafe with top-notch speciality coffee.4 Poole's Little Red Roaster, roasting all its own coffee with the Little Red Roaster still on site!5 Milstead & Co under a bridge in Seattle, another neighbourhood joint with top-notch coffee.6 Amid Giants & Idols, another cafe/roaster in an unlikely location: up a hill in Lyme Regis.7 Jesmond's Cafe 1901, the very epitome of a neighbourhood coffee shop.8 Swindon's Darkroom Espresso, where a real community spirit saw a battle to save it.9 Notting Hill's Farm Girl Cafe, tucked away in a litte courtyard off Portobello Road.10 Lemana Coffee & Kitchen, right at the heart of Lymington, now with Has Bean coffee!11 Esher's Giro, serving the local community as well as the cycling community.12
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There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

The word "ground" with the "g" and "d" replaced by portafilters.

Ground Coffee, Kemp Town

The original Ground Coffee, in Kemp Town, is roasting its own beans these days, but it’s still very much a neighbourhood Coffee Spot, sitting on a sunny corner in Kemp Town.

To the east of  Brighton‘s centre, it’s off the beaten track as far as tourists are concerned. My personal favourite is the cosy back room.

The text "Ants Pants Cafe" over the date the cafe was established: 2004

Ants Pants

Ants Pants was set up in 2004 to bring a slice Australian café culture to southern Philadelphia. The result is a very unpretentious, neighbourhood place, which feels very unlike a third-wave coffee shop and more like an American diner (but with significantly better coffee). Ants Pants was also shortlisted for the Best Breakfast Award.

A tray full of cupcakes, freshly delivered to Jolliffes in Brighton

Jolliffes

Once-upon-a-time, Jolliffes was Nest, a lovely, cosy spot in Brighton’s North Laines. Now under new ownership and with a new name, the good news is that its retained the same cosy, neighbourhood feel of the original.

A lovely flat white in an orange cup from Upshot Espresso in Sheffield

Upshot Espresso

Sheffield‘s Upshot Espresso is another that’s a little way out of town, in this case, on the city’s eastern edge, near the university and hospital. Unassuming from the outside, it’s fairly unassuming on the inside as well, except that it serves some amazing coffee from London’s Square Mile, plus a regularly-rotating cast of guest roasters.  Also shortlisted for the Best EspressoHappiest Staff & Best Breakfast Awards.

An espresso from Little Red Roaster in Poole, made with a single-origin coffee from the Doi Chaang community in Thailand and served in a classic white cup.

Little Red Roaster

Poole’s Little Red Roaster has been around for longer than most. Originally all the coffee was roasted on the eponymous little red roaster which is still in the back of the store, but it’s now gone into semi-retirement. Nevertheless, the Little Red Roaster is another top-notch coffee place, quietly serving its local community. Little Red Roaster has also been shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.

A model of a biplane sitting above the door at Milstead & Co. in Seattle.

Milstead & Co.

Milstead & Co. is another top-notch coffee shop that’s off the beaten track, in this case tucked away under the Aurora Bridge in the Seattle suburb of Fremont, where it turns out coffee from carefully-selected west coast roasters. Also shortlisted for the Most Passionate About Coffee Award.

The Amid Giants & Idols logo from the A-board outside.

Amid Giants & Idols

Halfway up a hill in Lyme Regis is roaster/café, Amid Giants & Idols. When it’s in full holiday mode, the seaside resort is packed with visitors, but the rest of the year it’s the locals which keep Amid Giants & Idols going. Also shortlisted for the Best Roaster/ Retailer and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot and Awards.

A drawing on the wall of Cafe 1901. Two figures flank an old-fashioned hot air balloon, with a coffee cup as a basket. One holds a coffee plant and coffee bean, the other, in top-hat and with monocle, holds a model sailing ship while tipping a drop of coffee out of a cup.

Café 1901

A real neighbourhood joint, and a popular brunch spot at the weekends (which is when I was there), Café 1901 graces the Newcastle suburb of Jesmond, occupying the hall of a local (and still active) church.  Café 1901 was also shortlisted for the Best Breakfast Award.

A lovely latte-art swan in a flat white from Darkroom Espresso.

Darkroom Espresso

Darkroom Espresso in Swindon is, in many ways, the epitome of a neighbourhood coffee shop. When the founders, an Anglo-Australian couple, were threatened with deportation, the customers started a petition (ultimately unsuccessful) to let them stay. However, Darkroom lives on, having been sold as a going concern to new management who have kept the neighbourhood ethos. Also nominated for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.

Thumbnail - Farm Girl Cafe (DSC_3484t)Farm Girl Café

An interesting mix of Aussie (baristas) and French (chefs), Farm Girl Café is a recent addition to Notting Hill, helping fill the speciality coffee void in that area. Tucked away off a courtyard at the bottom of Portobello Road, it largely attracts crowds of local residents, particularly at the weekend, when they all come for brunch. Also shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating Award.

A Has Bean coffee sack hanging from the counter at Lemana Coffee & Kitchen.

Lemana Coffee & Kitchen

An old favourite in the Hampshire town of Lymington, I first visited Lemana in 2013. Since then it has upped its coffee game, with Staffordshire’s Has Bean. However, it’s lost none of the friendly, neighbourhood feel which made it the success that it is, loved by locals and visitors alike. Lemana has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake and Best Breakfast Awards.

Giro Cycles won the 2015 "Best Coffee Shop for Cyclists" at this year's 2015 UK Coffee Stop Awards.

G!RO Cycles

Esher’s G!RO Cycles is a speciality coffee shop that’s used to winning awards, having picked up the Coffee Stops Award for “Best Coffee Shop for Cyclists” earlier this year. Based firmly in Esher, with beans locally-roasted by Beanberry Coffee in Woking, it’s also rooted in a second community, that of the south east’s cyclists, who are extremely well-catered for! Giro has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee Award.


A special mention also needs to go to the following.

Climpson and Sons Café, a fixture in London Fields
Mr Wolfe, providing more than just coffee and cake in Brighton
Electric Coffee Company serving more than just commuters over Ealing Station
Espresso Kitchen, a slice of Italian espresso bar culture in Bournemouth

And the winner is G!RO Cycles
Runners-up: Darkroom Espresso and Café 1901

Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2015.


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